Monday, January 16, 2012

Day 15: Sydney (Day 1)

I woke up early for my first full day in Sydney. I had planned a month before to take a Blue Mountain Day Tour with OZ Experience. The Blue Mountains are a national Heritage site and are on the list for the must see sites in Sydney....
Unfortunately, the tour never happened. Apparently there was a misunderstanding with the tour company and when I said I was going to take the tour, they took it as a maybe and requested I confirm my tour 2 days before the tour day. Sadly I had no internet for the 2 days before leaving for Sydney and so I never got their confirmation request... and so they never came to pick me up. My whole itinerary for Sydney was shuffled in a moment.
I walked back to the hotel rather frustrated and dejected (since I had walked 20 minutes to the meeting spot) and crawled back into bed and opened my computer to plan the day.

Since the free walking tour I had planned on taking the next day was offered daily, I decided that is where I would start my time in Sydney.
The walking tour started at 10a, so I started to make my way to town hall where the tour started. My hotel was right across the street from Sydney's central park. Oddly enough, this park is called Hyde park, which is actually the major park in London, England... as I discovered A LOT of the stuff in Sydney is names after places in London, down to their metro stations.

Upon entering Hyde park, I came upon the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) memorial.

I then leisurely made over to town hall to meet the walking tour.
This free walking tour was awesome. What was most interesting is that the sites we were taken to were not the most popular sites in the city, so I felt like I was getting an even more well-rounded view of the city.

Sydney Town Hall
Around Sydney there are these plaques in the ground that say "eternity". There is even one in the bell tower of the Main Bank of Australia building. The story goes that the word "eternity" was being written in chalk all over Sydney mysteriously. It occurred for years and years before anyone knew who was doing this.
Come to find out a man named Arthur Stace, a reformed alcoholic had heard his pastor, John G. Ridley, say "Eternity, Eternity, I wish that I could sound or shout that word to everyone in the streets of Sydney." He was inspired to do just that. So for a period of over 35 years he wrote that word countless times throughout the streets of Sydney.

Queen Victoria Statue

Inside the QVB (Queen Victoria Building)
There are two clocks in the Queen Victoria Building. One shows different scenes from Australia's history and the other shows scenes from England's history - one of the silhouettes shows Charles I being beheaded.

Fountain in Hyde park
We were shown the "Rum" Hospital, which at one point was actually the meeting house for the Australian parliment. It was actually built using profits from rum sales, making the Australian government building funded by alcohol. Out front there is pig, known as Porcellino. It is believed that if you rub its nose you will be lucky. He was decorated for Daffodil Day for Cancer Research.

The Bank of Australia, is supposed to be the Sydney equivalent to London's Big Ben... unfortunately even the people of Sydney acknowledge that it is a most lame attempt.

Above the Bank of Australia sign is the Australian Coat of Arms
 A little while into the 3 hour walking tour we stopped for a short break in Australia Square and saw this statue sculpted by J Seward Johnson. It is incredibly intricate all the down to the watch on his wrist.

Then we continued on making our way down closer to the Harbor. In once of the lawns near the water's edge there placed the actual Anchor and canon from the Norfolk Island wreckage from the HMS Sirius. This ship was the flagship for the first group of settlers to form a colony in Australia.

Then we moved on to the Harbor and full view of the Harbor Bridge.

The first  settlers house in Sydney
Our next stop was to the area of Sydney known as the Rocks.

 The Rocks were historically the slums of Sydney and the site for Sailors to find entertainment. It is now the site for shopping markets and bazaars.

After taking a walk under the Harbor Bridge, we arrived in full view of the Sydney Opera House. There we ended the tour and I was left to finish exploring on my own.

The Sydney Opera House is the most iconic thing in Sydney. I remember seeing is in the 2000 Summer Olympic Games. It was like seeing Big Ben when I first arrived in London. It was the sight that made it real that I was actually in Sydney. You actually can't go into the main part of the Opera house unless you pay for a very expensive tour, but walking around the outside and look in the lobby was definitely enough for the little architect in me.
The building is shaped in order to look like the sails of a boat. It was designed by Danish architect, Jom Utzon, who won the privilege to design the building in global contest.

Oddly enough my favorite part of the Opera House was actually the bathrooms. The sinks were crazy interesting. The counter was actually waved and each of the dips was a sink. The sinks didn't actually have drains, but instead the water would run off the back of the sink into a trough and then drain out of site. Seriously is was super cool. It seemed that even the detailing in the bathroom kept the water theme of the waves and sails of the ocean.

After I had gotten my fill of the Opera House I decided to walk down to Circular Quay for lunch. I was desperately craving a hamburger and was glad to find a Burger King for lunch. Actually, it wasn't called Burger King, but instead it is called Hungry Jacks in Australia - same menu, same logo, but different name. Apparently when Burger King franchised out to Australia, there was already a trademarked Burger King restaurant in Perth or something like that, so they had to change their name. I got a simple whopper meal (which cost the equivalent of $12 in the US) and ate in the Royal Park in view of the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge.

Found these awesome building fragments to sit on while I ate.
After my quick lunch, I decided to go spend the rest of the day in Manly Bay across the Harbor. I was told my a family friend, Greg, that I should visit Manly Beach while in Sydney and it would seem that everyone else I spoke with from the receptionist at the hotel, to the tour guide on the walking tour. So after lunch, I went down to circular Quay, bought my ticket, and headed out to spend the afternoon and evening across the harbor.
While waiting for my ferry to depart I was thoroughly entertained by a kid out from of the terminal, who was seriously skilled!
Jack Dawson
Quote by Jack London in the walkway
The main reason why everyone told me to go over to Manly is because the views of the city from the middle of the Harbor are not to be missed.

the opening to the Pacific Ocean

Upon arriving to the Manly Harbor I had really no idea what I was going to do with myself. I wandered around the shops and then sat at the beach for a bit and watched the surfers.

 While pulling into port I had seen a rather old looking building on the top of a hill that looked all British and ancient, so I decided to go exploring for it before I grabbed dinner. Turns out it was an old seminary that  is now an international business school... nothing too fantastic, but then you get the view of the beach down below.

I felt a little odd strolling around the grounds with no one else around. I also felt like with all the international flags hanging over the entrance, I was afraid there were going to be armed guards keeping watch over a foreign diplomat. But then I stumbled on a group of students playing rugby and figured I was not intruding on an international meeting.
After taking in the gardens and then walking back down the hill, I bought a cornish pasty for dinner and ate it while watching the darkness fall over the waters. A pigeon and I had a stare down over a couple of fallen crumbs and then I was ready to head back and go to sleep.
If I thought the look of the harbor in daylight, the view in the darkness was even more sparkly and beautiful!

No comments: